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How to deal with a one-up Debbie Downer

I have a new colleague who is quite exhausting. I was friendly with her at first, because I'm friendly with everyone, but it quickly became clear she combines the worst traits of a one-upper and Debbie Downer. Any conversation with her descends into a tale of woe. Have a cold? She survived cancer! End-of-the-month money trouble? She lost her ancestral home after her parents died! Couldn't sleep? A combination of Ativan, Lunesta, and Seroquel STILL don't do the trick for her!

I get she is 1) probably lonely and 2) unaware of how off-putting her behavior is. Still, I dread interacting with her.

How do you deal with people like this? I can avoid her as much as possible, but that's not always an option.

by Anonymousreply 76October 16, 2021 2:06 PM

My mother is exactly this personality type, but I have no helpful tips for you.

by Anonymousreply 1October 9, 2021 2:18 PM

I'm sorry, r1. That must be awful. I can't imagine having a family member like this

by Anonymousreply 2October 9, 2021 2:20 PM

How to deal with Debbie CAKES

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by Anonymousreply 3October 9, 2021 2:21 PM

Don't talk to her beyond the necessary pleasantries. Nothing else will work.

by Anonymousreply 4October 9, 2021 2:22 PM

OP you answered your question. When you can avoid her, do so. When she can't be avoided just humor her as subtly as possible. This is very easy to do unless you are a total idiot. her one upping and Debbie downer has nothing to do with you so why would you let it get to you at all? Grow the fuck up. You didn't even need to waste our time. Or, are you that socially inept?

by Anonymousreply 5October 9, 2021 2:26 PM

Tell her you have become hard of hearing and yell the answers to her, like WELL SOME CREAM MIGHT HELP THAT UNFORTUNATE STITUATION YOU GOT GOIN DOWN THERE, so loud everyone in the complex can hear u. Problem solved.

by Anonymousreply 6October 9, 2021 2:41 PM

I suspect you're dealing with an energy vampire. She sounds suspiciously like Evie Russell in "What We Do In The Shadows."

by Anonymousreply 7October 9, 2021 2:48 PM

OP Do you have a gun?

by Anonymousreply 8October 9, 2021 2:53 PM

[quote]She lost her ancestral home after her parents died!

The country where her family comes from was destroyed?

by Anonymousreply 9October 9, 2021 3:10 PM

Oh for God's sake!

Just take her to the basement and kill her!

No one has any fuckin' balls anymore...

by Anonymousreply 10October 9, 2021 3:20 PM

Non-stop hissing

by Anonymousreply 11October 9, 2021 3:24 PM

Does she also go on and on about feline AIDS?

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by Anonymousreply 12October 9, 2021 3:29 PM

Thank you, R2. It's awful. Ironically, one of her favorite topics to whinge about is, "No one ever calls me/invites me to go out/takes me anywhere!!" I cannot imagine why.

by Anonymousreply 13October 9, 2021 3:37 PM

Why are you dealing with co-workers in person?

by Anonymousreply 14October 9, 2021 3:42 PM

r13 do you think she has a personality disorder?

by Anonymousreply 15October 9, 2021 3:44 PM

OP, next time one up her one upmanship.

by Anonymousreply 16October 9, 2021 4:09 PM

Avoid, engage as little with as little energy as possible. With the cocktail she's on she's not on the most stable ground.

If you get stuck in her pitty party, throw her a bit of trivializing positivity. She'll tire of you and move on bc she's not get the response she wants out of you.

by Anonymousreply 17October 9, 2021 5:56 PM

I do the “hard of hearing “ thing. Tended bar for ten years. I would say exercise extreme misdirection. When you make people repeat themselves, it’s always good for a laugh. Once more, with feeling!!! Simply asking someone to explain what the hell they are talking about can diffuse many an unwanted conversation. Presenting yourself at a disadvantage(I can’t hear what you’re saying, sorry.) usually takes the upper hand away.

by Anonymousreply 18October 9, 2021 6:12 PM

Haha, thanks r18. I can see that method working better in a crowded bar than in a quiet-ish office.

by Anonymousreply 19October 9, 2021 6:18 PM

One-uppers are SO exhausting!

by Anonymousreply 20October 9, 2021 8:40 PM

You think YOU'RE exhausted, r20!!

by Anonymousreply 21October 10, 2021 3:19 PM

I loved her song "Shake Your Love"

by Anonymousreply 22October 10, 2021 3:34 PM

These people who have done everything better than you have, or have everything worse than you... tend to be pathological liars. Most of what they claim isn't even true. Just ignore and don't engage them. If you have to interact, walk away as soon as possible.

by Anonymousreply 23October 10, 2021 3:48 PM

r23 I had an art professor like this. Every week she told another tale of woe -- big ones, like getting diagnosed with cancer or having a heart attack. I realized that she was nuts when her "stories" became too fantastical to believe anymore. I could never figure if she was a pathological liar or just delusional.

Funnily enough, she was a great art professor.

by Anonymousreply 24October 10, 2021 3:54 PM

OP, you have misidentified this woman as a Debbie Downer. She sounds more like a Penelope.

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by Anonymousreply 25October 10, 2021 3:57 PM

Seroquel - my father is on it for age-related depression, sundowners and sleep issues. If she's younger, she may very well be diagnosed as psychotic, so def. avoid until you know more.

by Anonymousreply 26October 10, 2021 4:03 PM

Avoidance is the only option. These kinds of people will suss out a good listener, and if you make the mistake of giving them an inch, even just out of politeness, they will take that fucking mile.

When I used to wait tables, there was this older woman whom I worked with who had nonstop, fantastical tales of woe and misfortune. She told me she was pregnant multiple times (she was in her late 50s), and then "lost the baby," once even at work. "Oh my God, I think I'm spotting," she yelled, as she ran to the bathroom. I've seen her stage falls when she thought no one was looking, to get attention, or to go home early. Another time, she again claimed she was pregnant, and of course I waited for the eventual losing of the baby, but it never came. She went a full 9 months still claiming she was pregnant, while her body never changed. She then told the boss she needed 2 weeks off over Christmas and New Year's because she had a C-section scheduled to give birth to baby Joshua, and one of my co-workers chimed in, "Um, Julie, you're not going to be back to work 2 weeks after a C-section. I had one and I was out from work for 7 weeks. Usually, it's 6-8." She then had to save face by taking an entire 2 months off! She brought in photos of the cutest blonde and blue-eyed baby, and then the next year brought in pictures of a child who looked Filipino, insisting it was still baby Joshua. "He's really starting to look like his father!" I still think about her, and wonder if she's still pretending that baby Joshua exists. He'd probably be entering college now.

by Anonymousreply 27October 10, 2021 4:19 PM

R27, was your coworker Janet Jackson?

by Anonymousreply 28October 10, 2021 4:24 PM

r27 do you think she was delusional?

[quote]Pseudocyesis is defined by the DSM-5 as a false belief of being pregnant that is associated with objective signs and reported symptoms of pregnancy, which may include abdominal enlargement, reduced menstrual flow, amenorrhea, subjective sensation of fetal movement, nausea, breast engorgement and secretions, and labor pains at the expected date of delivery.

by Anonymousreply 29October 10, 2021 4:24 PM

Sometimes people like OP’s co-worker need a nudge or a kick in the pants. Politely tell her what she does is extremely off putting and if she ever wants friends, she needs to knock it off.

Let me know when you’ve done that OP....and then can I have your stuff??

by Anonymousreply 30October 10, 2021 4:25 PM

I hate r22 for making me think of that song “Shake Your Love”. Now it’s stuck on loop in my brain.

by Anonymousreply 31October 10, 2021 4:28 PM

R29 I don't think she ever believed she was actually pregnant. But she would say and do anything to gain some type of sympathy. There must be something in the DSM about her disorder. She was a walking case study.

by Anonymousreply 32October 10, 2021 4:33 PM

r32 factitious disorder

by Anonymousreply 33October 10, 2021 4:34 PM

My friend Lynda is like your co-worker, op.. No matter how bad I think I feel with my chronic condition, , she always has it worse. In the past 12-months she’s had another cancer scare, new diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, COVID, flesh eating bacteria, surgery after an auto accident, etc.

by Anonymousreply 34October 10, 2021 4:35 PM

My mom had a friend like this who told all their mutual friends that she was going to have to get her leg amputated, and that when she told my Mom, my Mom said she would have to get her a parrot.

None of it was true, but it’s the kind reaction my Mom would have had, so everyone believed her. Of course she never lost her leg, or went blind either.

by Anonymousreply 35October 10, 2021 4:36 PM

It’s histrionic personality disorder which is more common in women than men. It’s an attention seeking disorder. It’s why women and femme gays make up a majority of the psychic community and why it’s common in women to shave their heads and fake cancer or mental illnesses or do it to their children. It’s why the #MeToo movement was so big. It’s why women are more likely to “come clean and expose the truth!” on Facebook.

by Anonymousreply 36October 10, 2021 4:41 PM

You're mostly describing factitious disorder, r36

by Anonymousreply 37October 10, 2021 4:43 PM

kill her

by Anonymousreply 38October 10, 2021 4:44 PM

Die in a grease fire?

by Anonymousreply 39October 10, 2021 4:51 PM

In order to get along in life, you have to be an actor. When this bitch goes on, you nod sympathetically, listen, validate, and move on. I've tried to always keep a sheen of unapproachability and take my time getting to know people in places of importance (work, apartment, etc). I feel like I humor most people and then keep a small, trusted group of friends with whom I can talk shit about said people. My friends are my safe space.

by Anonymousreply 40October 10, 2021 6:10 PM

Sorry I'm not in much of a mood to give advice. I'm recovering from covid and a broken ankle. My fibromyalgia and lupus are also acting up. I would cradle my mug but I dropped it on the kitchen floor this morning and it broke into a dozen pieces. It was my favorite mug.

by Anonymousreply 41October 10, 2021 6:13 PM

[quote]When this bitch goes on, you nod sympathetically, listen, validate, and move on.

No, this is wrong. Don’t listen or validate anything. When this bitch talks about her newly diagnosed cancer, just say “oh, that’s nice” and walk away.

by Anonymousreply 42October 10, 2021 6:35 PM


by Anonymousreply 43October 10, 2021 6:42 PM

I agree with you, R40. At work, I act like a typical British butler, without the accent. These butlers are generally portrayed as highly tolerable and professional, never letting on how much they want to strangle those he must deal with. I never let on my contempt for my co workers and superiors.

by Anonymousreply 44October 10, 2021 6:59 PM

Thee Eric Blore School of Tolerance. ^^^^

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by Anonymousreply 45October 10, 2021 7:08 PM

You could offer to pay for her psychotherapy.

by Anonymousreply 46October 10, 2021 7:22 PM

She already goes

by Anonymousreply 47October 10, 2021 8:26 PM

[quote] In order to get along in life, you have to be an actor. When this bitch goes on, you nod sympathetically, listen, validate, and move on.

No, you don't "validate."

Grow some balls. Punch and delete, quietly.

You can also say: "I have my own problems that I need to focus on, now and for the next few months."

by Anonymousreply 48October 10, 2021 8:52 PM

Wear AirPods or a headset. When she accosts you, pretend you didn’t hear. Her lame-ass stories presumably don’t stand up to being repeated.

by Anonymousreply 49October 10, 2021 8:59 PM

Just respond with “Don’t get me started” after everything she says.

by Anonymousreply 50October 10, 2021 8:59 PM

LOL r50

by Anonymousreply 51October 10, 2021 9:01 PM

Or respond with “Oh God, why me” after everything she says.

by Anonymousreply 52October 10, 2021 9:04 PM

I agree with those arguing for complete avoidance. Even if it means walking away when she attempts to start a conversation. At some point, you may just have to tell her to fuck off.

You could also record a snarky/annoying retort on your phone, and play it to her face everytime she attempts to speak to you. It would be most effective if you don't otherwise acknowledge her when you do so. Don't make eye contact, and don't even look in her direction.

But the easiest route is total avoidance.

by Anonymousreply 53October 10, 2021 9:06 PM

How about people who feel the need to brag about everything they own is much better than what others have? They have a bigger house, top of the line very expensive appliances, super expensive car, well, everything is fantastic and always better.

Unfortunately, this person is hard to avoid because they're a relative, a first cousin. We were close growing up, somehow, over the years she became insufferable. Coming out was easy with this relative, she wasn't the type to judge anyone. Now she judges everyone and everything! She married a wealthy man, then became a an insufferable snob.

Thankfully, we don't live nearby and due to Covid she's had no reason to come to the city. I've been avoiding her phone calls, yet she still keeps leaving messages.

by Anonymousreply 54October 10, 2021 9:40 PM

R54, I have a cousin like that. Texts photos of her house, her cocktails on the deck of her house, etc. I don't even give it a thumbs-up. I just ignore it.

Since your has changed (become an insufferable braggart), it's OK for you to change as well. You can change the way you react to her. You're entitled to ignore her.

by Anonymousreply 55October 10, 2021 9:44 PM

I think a lot of one-uppers are socially awkward and unsure how to contribute to the conversation without being obnoxious.

I resent people like my coworker because they make me feel guilty about having had an (ostensibly) easier life, and I resent it. It feels like manipulation.

by Anonymousreply 56October 10, 2021 10:54 PM

[quote]It feels like manipulation.

It is. Avoid.

by Anonymousreply 57October 10, 2021 11:22 PM

OP, I'm not trying to be mean, but if you feel guilty about your coworkers tales of woe, you sound easily-manipulated.

by Anonymousreply 58October 10, 2021 11:38 PM

Cut her off at every instance where she starts to tell you a story, turn away and begin to work. She'll see you as someone who doesn't care and find another victim to talk her shit to. Be cold and curt and rude if you have to, it's a workplace, you're there to work.

by Anonymousreply 59October 11, 2021 1:17 AM

I’d probably just say "Sucks to be you," and walk away.

by Anonymousreply 60October 11, 2021 1:28 AM

R59 she does have a way of sucking people in. I have noticed this as other colleagues interact with her. You can never just say "hi" to her. It's always something ...

by Anonymousreply 61October 11, 2021 12:24 PM

You're not wrong, r58, but I've improved a lot over the years

by Anonymousreply 62October 11, 2021 1:42 PM

[quote][R54], I have a cousin like that. Texts photos of her house, her cocktails on the deck of her house, etc. I don't even give it a thumbs-up. I just ignore it. Since your has changed (become an insufferable braggart), it's OK for you to change as well. You can change the way you react to her. You're entitled to ignore her.

Another problem with this relative, she lies and causes a lot family drama. This crazy woman pits relatives against each other, always spreading lies. Of course, most of the relative know most of her gossip isn't true, few of us rarely see each other. We all live in different states.

It's clear she's also become mentally unstable. Apparently she has no life, beyond her husband and her spending habits, she doesn't do much. Her kids are all out of the house.

I've continued to ignore her calls, but her messages have gotten nastier. Like Alex in "Fatal Attraction", her messages are at the "I will not be ignored" level. It's clear she's unhinged. Last time we spoke I told her she either needs a hobby or should volunteer somewhere.

This cousin also constantly bothers an elderly aunt. One day I was speaking to this aunt, she told me the cousin called her about 20 times during our conversation!

by Anonymousreply 63October 11, 2021 6:35 PM

Is she Gen X? They're major Debbie Downers

by Anonymousreply 64October 11, 2021 6:38 PM

Empathy is a wonderful trait to exercise. It shows a willingness to participate in our society, and conveys to others that you are capable of caring about different human beings.

That being said, you would be wise to isolate at least a couple of individuals you feel comfortable taking a shit on. They are out there and waiting for your derision.

Good luck.

by Anonymousreply 65October 11, 2021 6:46 PM

Kick her in the cuntbone!

by Anonymousreply 66October 11, 2021 10:00 PM

Grab her and squirt ketchup up her cooche.

That will liven her up!

by Anonymousreply 67October 11, 2021 10:02 PM

Tell her that you’ll add her name to your prayer list and change the subject to the current weather conditions.

by Anonymousreply 68October 11, 2021 10:49 PM

I have a 'friend' on Facebook who is like this, someone I met years ago and maintained a brief, in-person friendship. She will respond to a post, especially the ones that I'm proud or happy about (like a career success or a funny encounter), and somehow manage to include how she's epileptic and prone to seizures. Takes the energy right out of the thread. I'd 'unfriend' her, but I actually feel sorry for her, she's obviously quite lonely. I don't want to hurt her feelings.

by Anonymousreply 69October 11, 2021 11:07 PM

Keep interrupting her stories with details about yourself. She’ll loose interest when the focus is off her and will then shut the fuck up.

by Anonymousreply 70October 11, 2021 11:08 PM

I actually saw a red flag during my first interaction with her. She said she "wanted to major in computer science, but her mother signed her up for the wrong orientation slot the summer before freshman year." This was 25+ years ago but she had to let me know.

I agree with r65. I want to be empathetic but without her driving me crazy. I do feel sorry for her on some level.

by Anonymousreply 71October 12, 2021 2:26 PM

She didn't come to work today so no interactions

by Anonymousreply 72October 12, 2021 9:35 PM

Another colleague was bitching about her today. I'm not alone!

by Anonymousreply 73October 13, 2021 10:46 PM

Do people like her have no insight?

by Anonymousreply 74October 16, 2021 1:31 PM

OP, you've just described my next door neighbor. I think R4 said it best. Their first story was about the fact that they were a cancer survivor. Lymphoma. In their 50's. So I was kind to them. Patient. etc. Even gave them the extra package of cookies when I did the BOGO at the supermarket. But you just cannot. You cannot.

by Anonymousreply 75October 16, 2021 1:45 PM

Thanks, r75. I am sensing that more and more as time goes by ... she's an emotional vampire of the worst kind.

by Anonymousreply 76October 16, 2021 2:06 PM
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